When Garrison Green resident Joyce Doolittle passed away last year, Covid restrictions prevented holding a celebration of her life, so good friend and Calgary writer Sally Truss got together with Joyce’s two daughters Megan and Lisa to create a book that captures memories of Joyce. They invited some 60 friends from around the world to contribute their stories. The result is Joyce Doolittle Stories, A Community Telling.
Joyce was an actor and director who played an important role in Calgary’s theatre development. In 2018, she was named to the Order of Canada for her pioneering work in theatre. Watch a short video with her here.
“Joyce used to say that if you can think it and put your energy behind it, it can be done,” said Sally. “I wanted to honour her because Joyce was huge in my life as a teacher, friend and mentor.”
“After my mother passed, we were sent many thoughtful and comforting messages remembering Joyce,” said daughter Megan. “We were talking about these on Zoom with Sally Truss, our family friend from childhood, when she had the spark of an idea to bring them together to make this book. She blended together many contributions: personal, biographical and visual, with a wonderful production team, in this creative response to our wish to remember and celebrate Joyce’s life with all who knew her.”
Garrison Green resident Allan Holbrook worked with Joyce for some 23 years in numerous plays. By coincidence, they both chose to live at Garrison Green, where they renewed their friendship and love of theatre. Allan contributed a short article to the book, recalling dinners with Joyce. “Joyce was a great gal who often sat at our table. Joyce was a great dinner companion and we miss her boisterous voice and appetite for a laugh.”
United’s music director Jill LaForty, hosts United’s Music Appreciation program, which marked the beginning of a long friendship with Joyce and Quenten Doolittle. “It was wonderful to have Joyce as part of the group. Where most residents were reticent to suggest subjects for future programs, Joyce was enthusiastic. ‘Let’s do Stravinsky!’ ‘Debussy would be nice.’ ‘How about programs on what a conductor does?’
“Joyce’s theatrical talents were an added gift,” said Jill. “Whenever possible I worked in dramatic readings or poetry, which Joyce brought to life with her resonant voice and customary flair. Once I approached her to collaborate on a music-inspired-by Shakespeare program. ‘We need a production meeting!’ she cried and admitted how much she missed those now that she was retired.”
Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program development and creative expressions manager, often worked with Joyce to develop programs. “Over the years she was an advocate of our philosophy of lifelong learning and creativity as a form of personal expression. Much to the delight of the residents and staff, Joyce also gave a few live theatre performances. She participated in the life writing programs with Mount Royal University and became a mentor to high school students involved in an intergenerational program at United. She never stopped sharing her passion for education, the arts, and for nurturing others to believe in themselves. She could easily identify their strengths and celebrated them wholeheartedly. When Joyce gave you a compliment, you knew it was sincere and it had a lasting impact. She shared this gift with both the residents and staff, and I feel so fortunate that we had the opportunity to become dear friends. She was someone who left an impression on those around her, and I will forever be grateful that our paths crossed.”
The book was launched a couple of weeks ago on Zoom. Tomorrow, residents of Garrison Green can watch the launch event replay in the community’s theatre.
Copies of the book are available for sale at Shelf Life Books.
Photos by United Active Living, Sherana Productions. Videos by Sherana Productions.
Don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour at your convenience. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help!
To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.
Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.